LIVE REPORT: Tragedy and Nanowar Of Steel @ Thekla, Bristol 29.04.2023

There are many words that go together quite well; one combination I didn’t expect to be using consists of the following: boat, barn owl, IKEA and glitter. If you attended the Bristol date of the tour featuring Disco Covers band TRAGEDY and Parody Metal act NANOWAR OF STEEL, this combination of words will make a lot of sense. For those who didn’t let me explain. The music venue Thekla is a boat; yes, you read correct, a boat. I was taken aback and amazed by this too. Witnessing the band’s sound check earlier that day, it was great to see how in-sync both bands were with each other. It’s not every day you can say you witness two bands from different countries partaking in each of their national anthems.

As the punters gathered onto the vessel, it was reassuring to see it being packed out early doors. Which is a rarity these days. As I looked around the venue, I noticed the usual things happening; getting their first drink of the night, browsing the merchandise, securing their spot to see the bands and talking what songs they were keen to hear.

NANOWAR OF STEEL started off the proceedings opening with their pirate anthem Sober, given this is a song about a health-conscious pirate crew, it was also fitting for the music venue. I first caught them at Sabaton Open Air in 2022; due to their fun antics and solid musicianship, they were one of my favourite bands of the festival. They showed those antics again that night plus much more. At first you could tell those who weren’t aware of these antics were unsure on what to expect and maybe taken aback at first; this was short lived as by the time Ill Cacciatore Della Notte came around, the crowds were getting into it and taking part. I mean wouldn’t you if a giant barn owl appeared on the stage and danced in the crowd with you? I would love to explain what other shenanigans happened but don’t want to reveal too many spoilers in case you have yet to see them live. What I will say is the setlist was perfectly balanced with new material from their latest record Dislike To False Metal and back catalogue classics such as Call Of Cthulhu. One of my personal highlights was Disco Metal and getting to do the choreography from the music video in the flesh (or rotting flesh if you’re a zombie). This was their first time in Bristol and given the reception they received, it’s clear they will be welcomed back.

Even though TRAGEDY have been around for a little while, this is my first real experience of them this year. They have toured the UK many times over the years and Bristol is often on their list of dates; given the reception they got last night, it’s easy to see why that is. At first, the vocals weren’t entirely clear but after a quick fix, that sorted things out. They performed their covers of well-known hits such as SISTER SLEDGE’s I’m So Excited, LIPPS INC classic Funkytown and their latest rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s She Bop. It’s clear TRAGEDY are great at what they do; they keep the crowd engaged, they are solid musicians, and the vocal harmonies were on point. The comedic touch of their runner Lance on stage getting in the band’s way was also a unique touch to the performance. Also got to give a huge respect to a band that makes the whole venue sing along to TOTO anthem Africa and to do the YMCA dance, people on the balcony were even taking part. That’s how infectious their energy was.

All in all; the night was incredibly uplifting, and it was down to the bands that played. If both bands come to a town near you, I recommend catching them now whilst they are playing the smaller venues and festivals. These bands are fantastic at what they do and you have lots of fun along the way.

Words: Lotty Whittingham

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